Is it a stretch to say that this game against the Hokies is Miami’s biggest of the season? Maybe a bit, but I’ll say it anyways.
This game against Virginia Tech is the biggest of the season.
I’m probably guilty of this myself, but a lot of Canes hoops fans have been ignoring a disturbing trend that’s been going on for a few weeks now: Miami hasn’t really looked all that good. We write it off to "winning on the road in the conference is hard, man", but at the end of the day, the elite teams still do it in convincing fashion. Sure, the nation’s best teams occasionally lay an egg, like Kansas did at TCU, like Florida did at Arkansas, and like Miami did against Wake Forest. But the writing was on the wall, and I ignored it, and so did most everybody else. Winning by 6 at FSU, 2 at Clemson and 4 vs Virginia is not all that impressive.
It’s time for Miami to right the ship, and that’s what this Virginia Tech game is about. Most people have probably labeled the Duke game at Cameron as the biggest of the season, but if the Canes struggle again against Va. Tech? We’re going to walk in to Cameron and get spanked. This game is about getting back to fundamentals, about getting back to what started this 14 game win streak in the first place.
Virginia Tech Scouting Report
The Hokies are in, um, bad form right now. That seems like the best way to put it. They beat Florida State at home on Saturday, but before that, VT had dropped 9 in a row, and honestly, beating FSU isn’t all that impressive this season. With the NCAA tournament out of reach, Virginia Tech is playing for pride at this point, and nothing would make their season better than going to Coral Gables and handing the Canes their first home loss of the season.
My scouting report for VT hasn’t changed a bit since the last time these two teams played: The Hokies go where Erick Green takes them. Against Miami the last time out, Green shot 11-20 from the floor and 5-8 from beyond the arc to finish with a game high 30 points. Only 4 other Virginia Tech players even scored, and one of them only had two points. So yeah, to say their offense is centered around Green might even be a bit of an understatement. Durand Scott covered Green for a majority of the meeting in Blacksburg, but Jim Larranaga switched Shane Larkin on to Green midway through the second half and Larkin had more success, so I’m expecting to see more of Larkin and less of Scott on Green this time.
One figure that really stands out to me in the box score is that VT only had two blocked shots in the last game. In theory, Scott and Larkin, who are two of the most creative finishers I’ve seen yet this season, should be attacking the rim since VT lacks a dominant post presence. The problem is that I’ve said this almost every game, and it never seems to happen. Maybe this will be the game. Hopefully.
Key for the Canes
Cover Erick Green. I know Green had success last time around, but I think the Canes played him fairly well. It’s going to be important for Miami not to help off of him like they did against CJ Harris in the Wake Forest game, who hit all five of his three point attempts. Assuming that the defender just stays home on Green, I have a hard time believing he’s as successful as he was last time around.
This is a must win game, and on top of being a must win game, it’s a must blowout game. Miami needs momentum back with Duke on the schedule for this weekend, and a home game against an inferior opponent is the perfect place to start. I’m assuming (hoping) that Coach L is really letting the guys have it in practice this week, and that the Canes come out gunning when the game starts. Final score: Miami wins 75 – 62.